Hudson (NH) Explores Fire Station Pact

Seeking the most cost-effective way to upgrade Hudson’s three antiquated and undersized fire stations and lower response times, selectmen are proposing a “two-for-one” strategy to build a new $2 million fire station on town-owned land on Lowell Road, and to invest another $1 million to extend the service life of the Central Fire Station, Selectman Richard Maddox announced.

The selectmen’s tentative proposal to make $3 million worth of upgrades to two of the town’s three full-time, year-round fire stations was introduced and advocated by Maddox, and fellow Selectman Chairman Roger Coutu during the board’s Sept. 2 meeting.

The new fire station, if approved by Town Meeting, would replace the Burns Hill Fire Station at 88 Burns Hill Road, which was built in 1981 as a substation, Maddox said.

Starting in 2001, the Burns Hill station was open 24 hours a day, year-round, despite lacking adequate living and working space, to accommodate a full-time staff of three firefighters and equipment, according to Maddox, Coutu and Selectman Ben Nadeau, the three board members who visited the facility recently.

If approved by Town Meeting, the new fire station would be funded through an increase of about 8 cents per $1,000 of property valuation on the tax rate, Coutu said.

The $1 million selectmen are proposing to spend on upgrading the 62-year-old Lenny Smith/Central Fire Station next to Town Hall could be drawn from the town’s reserve fund with no impact on the tax rate, Coutu said.

The idea for putting forth $3 million worth of Fire Department upgrades to voters at Town Meeting next March was out forth by Maddox and Coutu following what they described as lengthy discussions with Fire Chief Robert Buxton.

Buxton, while detailing the history of the Hudson Fire Department’s aging facilities during the board’s Sept. 2 meeting, shared with the audience the rather startling news that the Central Fire Station building is currently in violation of the department’s own fire-safety code.

“We have a single means of egress off the second floor (of the Central Fire Station). For any building of that size today, we should have two means of egress off the floor,” Buxton said. “So we’re in charge of enforcing the life-safety code in all of the town’s buildings, and our own facility does not meet the code.”

According to the conclusions of a $21,000 professional study of Hudson’s firefighting facilities that the town paid to have done in 2007, “the Central Fire Station was found to be structurally sound, but not compliant with current building codes, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and those types of things,” Buxton told the board.

“In 2009, we put out a warrant article seeking $25,000 for engineering on a site for a new Central Fire Station, and that failed at the ballot that year. This is the first time since then that we’ve had an aggressive conversation about a new facility,” Buxton said. “The conversation that’s come up is: Is there a tolerable number of cost for renovating Central Fire to extend its serviceable life?”

Based on Buxton and Maddox’s analysis of the Hudson’s three fire-station locations, conditions and deficiencies, the determination was made that replacing the Burns Hill station, while upgrading the Central Fire Station to extend its service life, made the most sense financially, Maddox reported.

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